Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6.01.15

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

I finally had THAT week!  It was the first Sunday since April that I had time to sit down and get through a HUGE stack of picture books.  I'm highlighting just the best.  Please be sure to visit me on goodreads to see everything I read this week.  And because of lots of reading, there's just a minimal amount of writing.  But definitely check these out!

Picture Books

How to Read a Story
How to Read a Story by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
This was my favorite of the week.  Loved loved loved it.
I read it very quickly at ALAMW this January and loved it.  But to have the time to pour over it and think of the possibilities of it in the classroom and to take in each of the little details Mark Siegel added to the illustrations... Such an amazing book.
If you are a teacher of reading, please please find this book and add it to your August/September rotation!

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray
5/5 stars
This book was beautiful.  The writing was gorgeous, but what made it memorable was Marla Frazee's illustrations.  There were pages that I would love to have as prints.  Our 1st grade does a unit on space and patterns of stars.  This would be a lovely fiction tie-in.  But then you could also use it to talk about imagination or about looking on the bright side of things or being positive or thinking outside of the box or...

This Is Sadie
This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary
5/5 stars
This book has been given a lot of book love from Carrie Gelson and Mr. Schu, which means it's a book I should just go ahead and buy.  So, yes, I did.  Another book to use for imagination or thinking outside of the box... And inferring!  And talk about wanting prints to be framed, oh, there's at least 4 that come to mind right away!  Gorgeous book.

Touch the Brightest Star
Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson
5/5 stars
Author/illustrator of Tap the Magic Tree is back with another interactive book.  This time, a wonderful bedtime story that should be read over and over and over.  I have enjoyed all of the interactive books I've read lately, but this one is special.  Sometimes it just made me go, "ohhhhh!"

Sea Rex
Sea Rex by Molly Idle
4/5 stars
Rex and friends are back.  While I think Tea Rex is my favorite, I love the illustrations in this one.  Maybe it's because we're getting close to summer and I'm pining away for the outside and water, but I reread the book just to see the illustrations.  A couple of times :)

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore
17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill
3/5 stars
This book was humorous and definitely made me laugh - don't staple your brother's hair to the pillow, don't show your underpants by doing a cartwheel, don't dunk the mom toy in your mashed potatoes... But the last page was a bit off setting.  The little girl is apologizing to her mom for doing everything and receiving a hug, but behind her back is the stapler that had been taken away.  So is her apology real?  Change that page and it would've received higher stars.

Interstellar Cinderella
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood
4/5 stars
Go girl power!  We use many different versions of Cinderella, but I like this one for its uniqueness.  I like that Cinderella is a tough cookie and one that works on spaceships instead of donning the beautiful dress.  I like that she doesn't go right for the marriage part at the end.  I like the vocabulary Underwood uses - like naming the pet mouse, Murgatroyd.  The illustrations are different than what I would expect - bold and earth toned.

Informational Picture Books

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution
Gingerbread for Liberty by Mara Rockliff
4/5 stars
There seems to be more and more picture books that focus on a small moment that is part of a bigger time.  This picture book focuses on a German baker, Christopher Ludwick, who wanted to help his adopted country, the colonies, fight in the American Revolution.  He wasn't the strongest fighter, but he was able to do what he did best to help his country - feed them and use food for bargaining!

Stand Straight, Ella Kate
Stand Straight, Ella Kate by Kate Klise
4/5 stars
I loved this picture book biography about Ella Kate Ewing, a giantess.  Her life was interesting and how she went about living it and the changing view she had about herself definitely made this picture book one I would use again.  I thought by writing it in the first person gave it more voice.

Transitional Picture Books

A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake
The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman
4/5 stars
As I mentioned last week, I'm always very excited to find good, transitional chapter books. Well, this one has such fun tongue-in-cheek humor, that will make it fun to use as a read aloud, or for those kids who appreciate a witty book.  I'm thrilled this will be part of a series.  I will be looking for the next installation fall of 2016!

Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split
Anna, Banana and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi
4/5 stars
This is a tricky book because it's a bit more than a transitional chapter book, but I wouldn't call it middle grade.  Full chapters and a longer story, but this book will appeal to the younger reader.  This is a great books for those kids who are ready for longer books, but need just a bit more stamina in order to read middle grade books.
I liked this book, I loved the illustrations, but I had a hard time with how mean Sadie was to Anna.  I liked how positive Anna was, even when things weren't going her way.  She will be a good role model for young kids.

Middle Grade

Regarding the Fountain: A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks
Regarding the Fountain by Kate Klise
3/5 stars
This is the second Kate Klise book, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise on my list today.
I read this book because it is part of our 2016 IL Bluestem Choice Awards list.
This book is told entirely in letters.  The letters go back and forth between administrators, teachers, secretary and students from a school and the owner of a fountain company.  It's funny, the illustrations are gorgeous and the format is different.

Currently Reading

Saint Anything
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
This is the first Dessen book I've read in awhile, but it reminds me of why I've read them in the first place.  They are entertaining, real and good stories.  
I like this part:  "Once you realized this, experienced something that made it crystal clear, you couldn't forget it.  Like a face.  Or a name.  However you first learn that truth, once it's with you, it never really goes away." pg. 75

On Deck

Rump by Liesl Shutoff - it's my June re-read challenge book!
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon - my first Summer Break 2015 read
Rules by Cynthia Lord - a #mustreadin2015 book!


  1. Anna Banana was very early middle grade; maybe up to fourth grade? Mean girls in elementary school can be quite the problem, so it's good to see it addressed. I didn't understand Sadie having a housekeeper!

  2. Thank you for the reviews of so many great picture books. My TBR list just grew leaps and bounds. I will especially look for How to Read a Story to have it for the fall. Enjoy your reading week. Rules is a phenomenal book and I am sure you will love it.

  3. Nice assortment of books. I added a couple to my order for my Elementary Media Center. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  4. I agree with you about Sea Rex. LOVE the illustrations. The child-shaped sunburn on Rex's belly made me giggle.

  5. So many great PBs here! This Is Sadie just arrived from UPS a few minutes ago--looking forward to reading aloud to my son tonight! I just ordered the Kate Messner PB too--I'm sure I'll find lots of ways to use it in my classes. I'm reading Saint Anything right now too--started my Monday with half an hour dedicated to reading. Such a great way to start the week.

  6. Well, this was an expensive visit today. I added at least four books to my shopping cart! I like these early/easy chapter books, but because they are often used by older struggling readers, I want them to be a superb read as well. I'll look forward to checking out Anna, Banana and the Friendship Split and The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

  7. We just ordered How to Read a Story and can't wait for it to arrive. Have you read Look! by Jeff Mack? That is another book that all reading teachers should own.

  8. Oh my, Michele, so many wonderful picture books today. I have the Kate Messner book, still haven't opened it, but I will! I own Stars-so beautiful. Thanks for the long list. I put them all on my wish list, & ordered a few from the library. I'm really wanting to read This Is Sadie. So many have gushed about it!

  9. Love that you loved This is Sadie! And yes, wouldn't it be wonderful to have the entire book on your wall. I think that Julie Morstad has an etsy shop or sells prints at least - check into that. I LOVE Stars too. It is a very beautiful little book. I must get my hands on How to Read a Story! Yikes, supposed to not be book shopping.

  10. I love Sundays like that!!! I haven't had one in a while either and very much look forward to the summer for that reason.
    I am adding almost all of these to my TBR list and will get them from the library this summer :)

    Happy reading this week! :)

  11. I love, love, love Rules. Enjoy! You read so many excellent picture books this week. I have to add a few to my pile. :)

  12. Ah! I am so happy to hear that Saint Anything is going well. I can't wait to read it. Rules is on my #mustreadin2015 list! Too funny.

    In response to your comment...yes, yes, YES to adding X to your list. I try to save my absolute favorites to recommend to you. This one is such a great book for discussion. I loved it.